Have you noticed how casual many members of the younger generation appear when it comes to dress?
It is not so long since one would not think of attending a wedding or a funeral without wearing special clothing. If a man did not own a suit for such occasions, he would borrow or hire one.
The idea of people being selective in their dress is simply a reflection of their reverence and respect. Which is why we always kept special apparel solely for wear on Sundays. People would gladly speak of wearing “their Sunday best”.
And of course, if one is attending a special civic occasion (or a performance at a theatre) one would make sure to dress for the event. Nobody would think of visiting Buckingham Palace, or Government House, wearing jeans or overalls—although it has been reported that the Duke of Edinburgh thought a particular man was not important because the man was not wearing a necktie.
Don’t blame Prince Philip, because whether we like it or not the clothes we wear often indicate special messages. The origins of clothing show this. As Katherine Hamnett observed, the primitive man in the wolf-skin was not just keeping dry; he was saying: “Look what I killed. Aren’t I the best?” And among other things, what we wear is an indication of the respect one has for an occasion.
All of which leads me to explain why the clergy wear special garments at services of the Holy Communion.
The main object of vestments in church is to show reverence and to adorn the Eucharist as the greatest act of Christian worship.
The Eucharist was instituted by Christ himself, and from the beginning his followers attempted to honour it with special clothing.
In the Old Testament we read the directions given by God for the vestments of Aaron and his sons. They were to be of costly materials, worked in the finest manner. Fabrics of blue, purple and scarlet, embroidered with precious stones (Exodus 28: 2, 40).
Furthermore the priests officiating in the Temple had very specific garments, the lack of which made any one of them liable to death.
The Christian Church, right from the beginning, believed that the clergy serving the Most High, should depict reverence and beauty.
The constitution of the Anglican Church has always laid it down that our clergy should wear special attire when conducting services of worship. To do otherwise was deemed irreverent.